By Christina Rivers
The 20-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night showed that the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) still have a ton wrinkles to work out of their offense. Turnovers in the redzone, poor execution and miscues have continued to stall offensive movement on the field. The usually stellar defense was steamrolled by the Bengals. On Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin said that the week ahead will be spent focusing on putting numbers on the scoreboard and a higher level of production. With only a single transaction heading into practice for the September 22 game against the Chicago Bears (2-0), the expectations will fall to the players currently on the active roster.
“We’re going to continue to work and continue to get better,” said Tomlin. First, Tomlin may have to address some apparent internal issues. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette broke a story Wednesday morning that wide receiver Antonio Brown and offensive coordinator Todd Haley had a sideline confrontation during the Bengals game. Bouchette also addressed the fact that there is to be a “veteran players only” meeting that will be led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. While communication between coaching staff and players is hardly an abnormal occurrence in the NFL, including heated ones, Tomlin may not get the improvement he expects during the short week of practice if his players are focused on other internal issues.
The biggest area of focus should be amongst the running backs corps. Following the Cincinnati game, Isaac Redman admitted that there just do not seem to be any answers. “We need to figure it out, and we need to figure it out fast,” said Redman. Some are questioning the change in blocking scheme on the offensive line to plain inability to maintain control of the ball and move it downfield. Felix Jones was hailed by Tomlin for special teams play, but mum’s the word when it comes to performance in the ground attack.
That isn’t to say that responsibility doesn’t lay amongst the rest of the offense, or the team for that matter. There is a big question about cohesiveness. The Steelers need a sales pitch that they all believe in because right now, they aren’t buying it.
The Steelers, through two games in the 2013 NFL Season, have 76 total penalty yards and a mere 75 total rushing yards. On top of that, the offensive line has allowed seven sacks and an obviously frustrated Roethlisberger has thrown two interceptions. When asked about the game on Monday, Roethlisberger called the situation “very frustrating.” “We’ve got a long way to go,” said Roethlisberger. “Not a lot of positives right now.”
Safety Ryan Clark was vocal following the game, saying that the Steelers will not win games if the defense can’t stop the run. Costly penalties helped seal the Steelers fate Monday night, one coming from linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
The only roster move made this week was that cornerback Isaiah Green was moved to the active roster from the team’s practice squad following the release of kicker Shayne Graham, who was signed by the Steelers due to a hamstring injury that initially limited Shaun Suisham. Suisham was able to play and that made Graham expendable.
“Nineteen points in two football games is not going to win a lot of football in this league,” Tomlin admitted in his weekly press conference. He called the reality of the Steelers current situation, “still not good enough.”
The Steelers resemble the 1934 team more than the 2012 team at this point in the season, and that isn’t a compliment. This has ‘Steeler Nation’ up in arms and the organization in a fit. Until everyone gets on board and settles into a determined path to success, 2013 may prove to be a season that is difficult to not only watch, but live.
For more Steelers news and updates, visit Steelers Central.
Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a reporter and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied exercise physiology and sports psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. Her work can be found on